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Gospel Outreach Ministries to break ground

The longest-used church building in Grand Forks soon will be empty of church services, at least temporarily, as Gospel Outreach Ministries breaks ground Saturday for a new building on the southwest corner of the city.

The longest-used church building in Grand Forks soon will be empty of church services, at least temporarily, as Gospel Outreach Ministries breaks ground Saturday for a new building on the southwest corner of the city.

Bishop Michael Cole, who began his ministry in Grand Forks more than 30 years ago while he still was in the Air Force, has been planning the move for more than a year.

He has invited the community to the ground-breaking ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Saturday on the plot next to the new Marriott Hotel, which is at 2837 S. 42nd St.

Cole also is presiding over a two-day annual holy convocation of the North Dakota jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ, the denomination he and his congregation are part of.

The congregation has owned the former Christian Science church at 321 Belmont Road since 1992, bought from the dwindled Christian Science congregation that dissolved several years ago.

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Built in 1904, the former Christian Science church building is the oldest church building in the city still in use as a church, said Peg O'Leary, coordinator of the city's Historic Preservation Commission.

By comparison, St. Michael's Catholic Church was built in 1909, and First Presbyterian's former building downtown, now owned by Cottonwood Community Church, was constructed in 1911.

Gospel Outreach is part of the Church of God in Christ, the Memphis, Tenn.-based denomination. It's the nation's largest African-American denomination and the largest Pentecostal denomination, with 5 million members, twice the size of the Assemblies of God.

Dr. Martin Luther King gave his final sermon, the famous "I have been to the mountaintop ..." sermon in the COGIC's headquarters church, Mason Temple, in Memphis shortly before he was assassinated in 1968.

The Flood of 1997 hurt several downtown churches, including Gospel Outreach's building, with lots of water wrecking the basement's interior.

Cole's ministry has been marked as the most culturally and ethnically diverse in an otherwise pretty homogenous region.

He's forged close friendships with clergy and people across all denominations and is well known across the community.

Cole also has started two or three other COGIC congregations in North Dakota, especially on Indian reservations. He also regularly made evangelistic trips to other countries, mostly to the Philippines.

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Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or send e-mail to slee@gfherald.com .

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